No Fault Divorce New Legislation

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act received royal assent on 25 June 2020. The government has recently committed to implementing the said Act from 6 April 2022. They state the delay in implementing the said Act of Parliament is primarily to allow time for the necessary IT changes to be made to the HMCTS online divorce system.

New Divorce Process

One of the main aims of the new legislation is to provide a new divorce process which will “work to reduce conflict”. The main changes being the introduction of a ‘no fault divorce’.

The sole ground for obtaining a divorce remains irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. However spouses will no longer have to prove one of the previous five facts required such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

The legislation introduces the ability for spouses to make a joint application, where the couple both agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. It also removes the ability of the other spouse (respondent) to contest a divorce.

Terminology

Other significant changes include changes in terminology. For example the petitioner will now be known as an applicant, the decree nisi will be known as a conditional order and the decree absolute will be known as a final order.

Time Estimate

Unlike the current process, the applicant will not be able to apply for the conditional order (formerly known as a decree nisi) until 20 weeks have passed since the date the divorce proceedings had been commenced. They will also still have to wait six weeks from the date the conditional order was made before they can apply for the final order (formerly known as the decree absolute). Therefore the minimum time a divorce will take (as from April 2022) will be six months, save for exceptional circumstances where applications can be made to expedite the conclusion of divorce proceedings.

If you would like to know more about the new divorce process, please contact a member of our family team.